Community Action

Ontario Distracted Driving Legislation

Hands-free device

Ontario's ban on hand-held devices has been in effect since October 2009.

The law makes it is illegal for motorists to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communication and entertainment devices. The use of hands-free devices is still permitted.

Studies show that a driver using a cell phone is four times more likely to get into an collision than a driver focused on the road. Other studies show that dialing and texting carries the highest degree of risk of all cell phone-related activities, with motorists who text being 23 times more likely to have a collision.

Police, paramedics and firefighters will continue to be allowed to use hand-held devices when performing their duties. All motorists may use hand-held devices to call 9-1-1.

  • Under Ontario's law, a fine of $280 can be levied against motorists charged with a distracted driving infraction (using a prohibited hand-held communication or entertainment device while operating a vehicle).
  • All provinces and territories (except Nunavut) in Canada have some form of cell phone/distracted driving legislation in place. For more details, please click here.
  • Teens and adults under 35 are the most frequent users of cell phones while driving.
  • In 2013, distracted driving fatalities surpassed both impaired and speed-related fatalities in motor vehicle collisions investigated by the OPP. A total of 78 persons died in distracted driving-related collisions compared to 57 impaired driving deaths and 44 speed related deaths last year.
  • For more information, please visit www.mto.gov.on.ca.

 

Tips

The Distracted Driving Legislation applies to hand-held wireless communications, hand-held electronic entertainment devices (such as MP3 players) and entertainment equipment visible by the driver (such as DVD players and laptops).

Safety tips:

  • Let phone calls go to voicemail
  • Don't text, surf the web or read emails
  • Avoid eating, drinking or smoking
  • Avoid grooming
  • Stop and park at a safe location to make or receive phone calls
  • Keep two hands on the wheel for better control
  • Keep your eyes and mind on the road

Technical tips:

  • It is illegal to dial phone numbers or search your address book while operating your vehiche. Most phones or hands-free systems are voice command equipped. You will need to activate this feature.
  • Some wireless devices require that users push a button to activate and/or deactivate the device's hands-free function (such as answer or end the call). This activity is allowed under the law.
  • Check your car owner's manual to see if your car is Bluetooth enabled (new models have this technology built in). There should be user instructions in your manual, otherwise contact your dealer.
  • If your car is not Bluetooth equipped, you can purchase this type of device at various retailers. Do your research for your needs and type of use. There are ear pieces that you program with your phone device or other devices that you can have wired to your vehicle's sound system. Expensive doesn't necessarily mean better.
  • If you have a global positioning system (GPS) device, it must be mounted securely to your dashboard or another safe location in the vehicle to comply with the legislation. Set your location before you leave. If you are rerouted for some reason, stop and park safely before you re-program your GPS device.
  • If you like to drive with your MP3 player, you can no longer program or change your play lists while driving. The device must be plugged into your sound system, either through adapters that your device comes with or by purchasing hardware that can be wired by a licensed technician. Select your playlist before you leave.

Technology exemptions:

  • Viewing a display screen used for collision-avoidance systems
  • Viewing a display screen of an instrument, gauge or system that provides information to the driver about the status of systems in the motor vehicle